Manchester United coach Paul Scholes has urged Roy Hodgson to give youngster Ross Barkley the chance to prove his worth at this summer’s World Cup, and believes that he could be key to the national side’s identity moving forward.
The Liverpool Echo today relays quotes from the United hero’s blog for PaddyPower, in which he writes that Hodgson must give starlet’s like Barkley and Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling the opportunity to prove themselves now that he has included them in his 23-man squad. The 20-year-old playmaker is carrying a considerable amount of expectation on his shoulders having been extremely influential in Everton’s run to a surprisingly high finish in the Premier League last term, but Scholes thinks it would be a mistake for the Three Lions not to utilise him.
“Now is a great chance for Roy Hodgson to give English football the identity we’ve lacked,” Scholes said.
“Tell the world: this is how we play, attack!
"There is no point taking people like Raheem Sterling or Ross Barkley to Brazil ’for the experience’. Play them.
“Some people might say it’s risky. But these players have the fitness and ability to get the ball back if they lose it (hopefully not in dangerous positions). You want them to attack and give the opposition problems.
“Roy Hodgson has little to lose by going for the jugular. Will we be satisfied if England scrape through to the quarter finals playing negative football? Let’s not do that and take responsibility for what happens if we go for it. Let these England players off the leash.”
It’s a brave enough approach, but would it ultimately bear dividends in Brazil? Whilst the notion of playing raw talent in important positions may be excitingly unpredictable, Hodgson will surely rely on the more senior members of the team in the opening clash against Italy this Saturday. In a group which will also be fiercely contested by the likes of Uruguay and Costa Rica, England can ill afford to lose to the Azzurri in their opening fixture, and the likes of Barkley and Sterling have no experience on the grandest international stage.
The former most certainly proved that he is capable of changing games on his own under Roberto Martinez last term, but many players have in the past failed to replicate their club form when tasked with doing so at major international tournaments. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are both arguable examples, and Hodgson would be wise to take it into consideration when selecting his starting XI.
From Scholes’ point of view, he’s unlikely to be the only figure at Old Trafford hoping that Barkley can impress at the World Cup. The Red Devils have been hotly linked with him ahead of what is likely to be an unprecedented summer of change, and a player of his all round ability would be a certified crowd-pleaser were he to make the switch. Holland boss Louis van Gaal will probably be amongst those keeping an eye on the starlet’s progression as the tournament develops, and Everton could see interest in him spike should he perform as well as people know he can.
As for Sterling, it’s perhaps been made more possible in the last couple of days that he will be included in Hodgson’s starting XI against Italy. Reports yesterday speculated that he will be used in a pivotal No.10 role, whilst the injury sustained by Danny Welbeck might see him shifted out onto the left wing.
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